Faces of Diversity Award

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation is proud of the industry’s diversity. And we hope to inspire further inclusion through the annual Faces of Diversity Awards program. In partnership with PepsiCo Foodservice, the Faces of Diversity Awards program honors individuals in the restaurant industry who have realized the American Dream through hard work, determination and enterprise.

Founded in 2006, this program was created to promote the importance of diversity and inclusion by highlighting model companies that have excelled in this area, as well as to raise awareness about the important role restaurants play in providing a ladder of opportunity for millions of Americans to achieve the American Dream.

A panel of industry leaders selects the winners, who will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC to be honored at an awards ceremony at the National Restaurant Association's Public Affairs Conference Gala Awards Dinner. In addition to the ceremony, a $2,500 scholarship will be made in the name of each winner to an aspiring student pursuing a career in the restaurant and hospitality industry. 

2018 Faces of Diversity Award Recipients


Anil Yadav

CEO, Yadav Enterprises
Locations in California and Texas
Anil Yadav’s humble beginnings in the United States shaped his character, focused his vision and fostered his work ethic. When he was 17 years old, Yadav emigrated from India to San Fran- cisco, sharing a small house with his parents and his seven siblings.  In 1984, Yadav managed to land his first restaurant job as fry cook in a Jack in the Box.

After several promotions, Yadav would go on to purchase his own Jack in the Box restaurant five years later and is now the largest operator of the brand.

Today, Yadav runs a multi-concept, San Francisco-based company with more than 350 restaurants, including 231 Jack in the Box locations in Northern California  and Texas, 73 TGI Friday’s, 37
Denny’s, 10 El Pollo Locos, nine Corner Bakery Cafes and five Sizzler restaurants.

Watch their story


George Wasai

General Manager
Legends Hospitality, Dallas, TX
Many famous individuals have passed through the Dallas Cowboys Organization—Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach and Emmitt Smith come to mind.  Few, however, have earned the love and respect of their colleagues  like George Wasai, director of food and beverage for Legends Hospitality and the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Now in his 28th season with the Dallas Cowboys organization, Wasai came to the United States from Ghana with his parents at the age of 14.

Starting his foodservice career as a dishwasher, Wasai worked hard and rose to the management ranks, where he takes great delight in helping others.

Watch their story

Michaela Mendelsohn

Owner and Chief Executive
Pollo West Corporation, California
After a year-long transition in 2006, Mendelsohn liberated herself and never looked back. In the years since, she founded TransCanWork, a non-profit organization that partners with the California Restaurant Association to create safe spaces for transgender individuals and to help others achieve their full potential. “Over the past five-plus years, we have hired more than 40 transgen- der employees, and 25 percent are on the pathway to management,”  said Mendelsohn.  Trans- CanWork has expanded its efforts to include financial institutions, tech companies, nonprofits and community colleges.
Watch their story

Read About Past Winners